THE Sex and Pleasure Book: Carol Queen & Shar Rednour at the AVM


It starts, actually, all the way back in the 1990s when the first Good Vibrations-themed, branded book came out, and it has gone through several iterations, and when Jackie came back to work at Good Vibrations, cause Jackie and Shar were both SESAs in the 1990s, Jackie’s dream was to bring that book back in-house and do it again and do it up right, do it for the 21st century. And, so, Jackie started talking about that just about immediately upon getting the job and at a certain point, a decision was made that while I was not actually probably organized enough [Shar laughs] to bring all of what we needed to do to make this book as comprehensive as we wanted to the table Shar is. Carol was like the hard drive and I was the keyboard. No, I’m teasing. [clapping] [laughter] She’s very smart and wonderful and I’ve been her director before, lovingly, and wish that I could always be your director, and… That’d be great. I also have many strong opinions and knowledge on things as well. I definitely brought my own voice to it as well. The idea that it would be as comprehensive as we tried to make it was baked into it from the very beginning because the idea was let’s make sure that we speak to everybody that we could possibly think of to speak to. We can talk about, or at least give references to follow through on, other kinds of sex that we don’t have room for a whole, like, this is not a whole book on everything. This is a book on everything as best we could all at once. So, I think the getting as many people’s perspective on what needed to be in it step was very important. We…There was like: What do you want to make sure that we remember to put in the book? What’s important to you? Or, what touched you? And we asked what touched you as an early GV-er, what touched you from other people that walked into Good Vibrations? And what touches you now? Like, how has your life changed and what do you want us to make sure that we get it all in there? Big. And this part of the process was really aimed specifically at the SESAs and the people who do front-line work, Yeah. so the Call Center and the SESAs. Because both of us know from being SESAs back in the day how crucially important it is to just hear people’s questions and realize what you have to get extra information about in order to appropriately respond to them. And this was the hardest thing for me about doing this book was, I know that there’s a world of people out there who have sex questions and I don’t want to leave any sex question unanswered and of course that’s 15 volumes of the size that we made. Yeah. It’s just impossible to get to everything, but we wanted to get as much in as possible and make the SESAs’ experience and their customer questions as much of the core as we possibly could. One of the first jobs that I did was take all of Carol’s material and take it completely apart. I wrote a lot, I added a lot, I asked a lot of questions, had you write more and then I also completely cut stuff that was taking up too much space and only answering one or a couple of people but what I would do for that was really save that information and save that person’s representation in the book by making sure that Carol mentioned that topic so that they could go find it in the index and they could come to the blog and find out more about whatever that concern was. You know we come from two different spaces and then we also have a really common space. And we have a common space as sex educators. And then I have…Carol has so much knowledge of all the people who…other people don’t know they exist. Somebody, like we talked about Bend Over Boyfriend, but there’s a thousand examples of like you know that this is happening right now in somebody’s bedroom, kitchen, or countertop or doctor’s office, sadly maybe, or whatever today. And I always just call upon my cousins. I come from the Midwest, I come from a working-class background and I have the same exact experience, but not even from the floors of San Francisco, from like knowing that my cousin who is 25 years old right now is experiencing this, or one of their friends or just this sort of every day, across America experience. Which is also what the SESAs are experiencing in the store Mhm. cause that person comes into the store. So I’m going over to Shar’s to start to do a work day with her and we would start by Shar telling me all about the phone call that she had with her cousin, [laughter] and you know somebody just got put on anti-depressants, I think was what your cousin’s sending you (SHAR: Yeah…Who knows!), and now she can’t have orgasms, and…write! Write, yeah. Or I’d be like reading long messages from the private messenger on Facebook. So her text messages would be a writing prompt, basically, and and with that it was Shar looking at what we already had (SHAR:Yeah.) in the armature of this outline Ask the doctors and all that, yeah. Okay, write about this, there’s not very much about this. So there would be, so some days Shar would have started the thing and I would finish it and some days I would start stuff and then Shar would write in it. And then, because Shar’s and my writing styles are kind of opposite-ish, not totally opposite. (SHAR: Not totally.) But each of us has a fairly distinctive writing style, then we had to bring in our old friend and colleague Marcy Sheiner Yeah. to like spackle over the differences in writing style. Shout out to old-school editors who really are like the dominatrixes of editing. They really know what they’re doing. And can I just say, who know where a freaking apostrophe goes, Internet. [laughter] Get schooled, get an editor. Thank you, thank you. That’s all. There’s always kind of that person that has the personality that is approachable and then there’s the people who just really need to learn something and they don’t have somebody to talk to and they can secretly go order the book, you know, on the Internet at night and then there’s some people who can not so secretly order it and help themselves. And leave it on their coffee table! Yes! Yes! I mean there’s people who will hide it somewhere and everything in between. (SHAR: Like, help others. [laughter]) But the thing is, even those people who are easy to talk to, really comfortable talking about sex, even they, often, Often. and we get right into this in the beginning of the book, Yes. they often use their own experience and knowledge base and give advice and, you know they become the person, the go-to-person but if they haven’t lived a very diverse life already, if they don’t live in a community that’s, you know, LGBT-friendly, if they don’t…there’s so many ways that somebody just using their own sexual experience as the basis to teach from misses out on the people who have sex differently than they do. (SHAR: Yeah.) Misses out on the stuff that they don’t know. And I mean no disrespect to any of the people who are holding court right now with their Long Island ice tea telling everybody everything. I mean no disrespect to them (SHAR: No!) because, this world would be way less interesting (SHAR: Yeah.) and great and they’re giving help to people everyday being comfortable. But! Just being able to hold a conversation, but we’re adding to the conversation. But diversity, and everybody’s really their own animal as far as sex is concerned, Yeah. we are not all the same, not all women want this, not all men do that. It’s too gendered, it’s too binary, it’s not inclusive enough, it’s not surprising because unless somebody has dealt with all the stuff, which…I…just take my word for it it takes a long time to get that much stuff done, sexual or otherwise [laughter] Right? It takes a long time! I mean, I’m in my 50s! Plus I went to school So, it’s just, it’s a lot to ask any open-minded individual to tackle. At Good Vibrations, you guys are very accustomed to talking to a customer who doesn’t have orgasms or doesn’t know if they’re having orgasms and that actually is daily life at a Good Vibrations store, talking to that person. Yeah. Okay. The rest of the world, that person, talking about, I mean just to make a stereotype, let’s say they’re all sitting around having happy hour, doing whatever, and if some of the gals are talking about their orgasms, or the Big O, or their partners, the person who is not having an orgasm might shrink back and not speak up because they feel like they’re in the minority. And little do they know there might be somebody else around the table that’s also having that experience. and so in daily life, that actually can be like the opposite of ever coming out. (CAROL: Yeah.) And you guys know that for decades of experience, that that’s a coming out process that happens over and over. And it’s like, why do women’s magazines have an anonymous survey to reveal that? It’s an anonymous survey, it’s not somebody with their name and their face together confessing… Well, the fact that I used the word confessing! That they’d feel like it’s a confession to say “hey, you know, I need help with an orgasm. And there are still so many people…things have changed a lot, that there are so many people like that even now. (SHAR: Oh yeah) who really have to work up to it, just to call a call center (SHAR: Mhm.), just to walk in the store, and probably just to look at the website We just want the book to be very welcoming. And to make sure that if this was the only reach out that somebody did to get some sex information, that it would be in there somehow. That what they would encounter in their life sexually would be referenced somehow, we really hope. I will at least say to anybody who doesn’t see themselves in this book, I’m really worried about that I don’t want that to be the case. I hope you’ll let us know and when we get launched (Shar: [laughter]) on the project of updating it, oh my god, this is going to make us, you know… You’re the only person on earth who could worry about it more than me, that’s what’s so funny, is that I thought that I… I have always been so inclusive and, my role is extremely diverse and my family and everybody and it’s also something about being somebody who also thinks Cause you’re always like “what if?”, “well what if?”, well what are the what-if-ers? Which can be really annoying to other people sometimes. There’s probably 200 extra what-if pages in this book (SHAR: Yes) because of that, yeah. And Carol, can beat me, which is pretty…that’s the one thing together, that’s what we needed. Yeah. But, Carol, as your Editor, Project Manager, we did pretty good. [laughter] We did pretty good. Stop! I know. Pens up. I just want people to know I care about this. Fingers up!

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